Armageddon Review

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It’s time for another Michael Bay film. This one is a disaster film so you can bet that there are a lot of opportunities for explosions. Like most action blockbusters that are over 2 hours, the film starts to fade by the end despite a reasonable start. Still, that’s not the area to blame in this case. It’s the characters and the writing that really keep the film down. It’s not like you’d expect too much ever since the Transformers series went public and people found out about the writing quality but you still always hope for the best when starting the film. Ah well, at least the explosions will keep you guessing.

The film starts off in NYC as a guy is trying to walk his dog while insulting everybody. The Dog attacks a guy’s Godzilla collection and starts to rough the Kaiju up. This leads to a confrontation between the man and the owner of the dog, but the man is blown up by a meteor. Not gonna lie, that scene was pretty hype since it’s just not something you’d expect in a film that isn’t about aliens and super powers. We learn that these shards are hitting various places on the planet because a big meteor is coming that will destroy the world. The government is forced to call in a team of drillers so they can teach them how to be astronauts and send them to the meteor where they will drill inside of it, drop the nuclear bombs, and get out of there. This can’t go wrong!

I remember reading way back in the day about how one of the main actors asked Michael Bay if it would be simpler to just teach the Astronauts how to drill than the other way around. The response he got was a very direct No. Still, I have to agree with the sentiment since it doesn’t seem like the drilling is all that hard. I mean…it’s just drilling right? Not to trivialize it or anything, but they had 2 weeks to prep anyway. Instead the drillers use that 2 weeks to mess around and go to clubs. Not the most productive way to go about things and I can see why the army lost their patience with them. The fate of the world is at stake and they still can’t get serious.

We actually get a Suicide Squad esque montage where we meet all of the characters. Naturally the very first member we see is trying to evade the cops and does a pretty good job of it. They have 2 copters after him and a dozen cars, but he’s still escaping. Another one is on his horse…riding away from th cops. Another one’s in a shady bar and you get the idea. These are the best of the best, but they’re all criminals so can they really be trusted with matters of National Security? They’re not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts either as they want to stop paying taxes and be able to visit the White House as part of their terms. I’m assuming they won’t get these rewards or at least hopefully not. Honestly, I’d at least want a big chunk of money as payment for saving the world though. That seems pretty fair if you ask me.

The first bit of the movie is actually really solid. We get to see inside of the government base as they all talk a good game and posture quite a bit. The dialogue is witty but not over the top and exaggerated. The characters are tough and rough without being annoying. These guys are professionals and act the part. We also get some nice destruction scenes in New York as we see people falling to their doom when buildings break and it may have even looked more impressive here than in Batman V Superman which is saying something. The film really only breaks down the instant we meet the main characters. That’s when you know that trouble is on the horizon.

We go to a drilling boat where Harry, the lead driller is playing golf. His team has been polluting the ocean for years under the cover of corporate business and he is casually hitting protesters on the head with his golf balls. Then he realizes that his subordinate AJ isn’t around and unfortunately he has been fooling around with Harry’s daughter. This is a very sad way to introduce these two characters, but it’s unfortunately not unexpected. AJ quickly runs out of there while Harry grabs his shotgun and tries to shoot him. It’s a very surreal scene as Harry runs around the ship shooting holes everywhere and sabotaging millions of dollars in the process. All that and he only gets a grazing shot on AJ’s leg. Naturally there are quite a bit of tensions between them now but they’ll have to team up if they want to save the world. AJ is clearly not going to stop going after Harry’s daughter so now Harry will have to either accept it or cut AJ’s air supply once they hit space. He’ll have some pondering to do.

Michael Bay films always suffer from 3 major problems. A nonsensical plot filled with many holes and characters making bad choices, terrible writing where every character has a potty mouth, and going for a lot of fanservice scenes that do nothing to add to the plot and are just there to doom the movie. While we mostly avoid the second option the others are still around for the duration of the movie. We didn’t need to have another scene that takes place in a shady strip bar where the characters prove that they are using their money in the worst way possible. One guy borrows millions of dollars just so that he can stay there for a full day before likely going off to die and that way he won’t have to repay the money. He also goes crazy in space and tries to murder everyone, but the characters wave that to the side and don’t mention it to the people on Earth. Now this crazy attempted murdered will be on the loose until he cracks again. That’s not cool.

The plot between Harry and his daughter Grace also isn’t handled well at all. You can definitely see why he’s upset since she’s been hiding her relationship with AJ for 5 months. I don’t know how though since they have so many public displays of affection that Harry must be really dense. Even when it’s mission time and AJ has to go we have to waste 5 minutes as he goes through an entire song in slow motion with large breaks between the lyrics. If you want a good example of a bad romance, this is it. It’s absolutely terrible and considering that the whole team has no sense of morality I’d want Grace off the ship if I was Harry as well. Every time one of the team comments about Grace’s looks you want Harry to grab the shotgun again.

Naturally this doesn’t make me like AJ any better as well. He’s willing to sacrifice the mission just to show off and never gets me to change my opinion of him. At least Harry was usually a good character and he’s the only member of the team that was actually decent. He makes the tough calls when necessary and is also the only one who seems to want to save the world. He has no demands upon doing it, he’ll just save the world to save his family. It’s a shame that the whole crew couldn’t be like Harry.

As for the plot getting a little iffy, why on Earth would the government try to blow up the bombs early when the characters still had time? They know that blowing up the bombs at that point would do nothing to stop the meteor from heading their way so it’s a waste of time. It would also blow up the only people who even gave them a chance at saving the world. It was only added into the movie to be used as pure drama and that’s why you should never do something purely for the rule of cool. You have to keep the plot in mind at all times. The film also seemed to want to stretch itself out for no reason like when the heroes stop at a convenient Russian rest station in space. Okay…then the place starts to blow up so they head back to the ship. This entire scene was completely filler and adds nothing to the movie. It’s just there for more explosions I guess, but it’s a rather long detour from the main plot.

The scenes in space also just aren’t as fun as the ones on Earth. Everyone starts to blend together since they’re wearing the costumes and all of the scenes start to look the same. It’s just more and more space with nothing really happening. They finally get the drill going and leave, but the final act is a little on the slow side. The first act wasn’t good since the main characters were so bad, but at least it was fun. You can’t really say that about the end. The humor is pretty hit and miss as you’d expect. Some jokes are really good and others are quite forced. Attempts were made though so I’ll at least give it credit there.

Overall, Armageddon is one of those films with a great concept and a poor execution. The film shows glimpses of greatness such as all of the scenes without the main character. The film is solid up until the first scene where AJ appears, gets good again from the point where Harry leaves for the base and gets debriefed. It sinks again when we get the montage of the other characters and just doesn’t rise up from there. It’s a fun film and the pacing is good for half of it, but there are simply too many negatives to recommend this film. I’ll give it some kudos for keeping the dog alive in the first scene though. I was ready to hit the panic button but the film kept its class there. If you want a lot of explosions and really annoying characters then this is the perfect film fr you. If you want a hype action film with better characters then I would recommend Batman V Superman instead. That one will be right up your alley.

Overall 5/10

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The Rock Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. Keep this in mind when reading the review as one for the unedited version would be far more negative.
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It’s time for a retro action film from the 90s. Sure, it may not be that old and calling the 90s retro is a little risky, but at this point I’d say that it’s old enough to be a valid point. You won’t really see this kind of film come out nowadays because the cinematography is just very different and new styles have surfaced. These 1-2 men against an army films can always be a lot of fun though and this one is handled well. I do admit that the first half does beat the second as the film begins to putter out but both halves are still pretty good. It’s more the fact that the film is so long and climax fatigue starts to set in while the first half is more laid back, but still has the explosions you’re waiting for. This is a Michael Bay film so there are quite a lot of explosions.

The film starts off with a bunch of terrorists breaking into Alcatraz and kidnapping 81 civilians. They demand 100 million from the government or they’ll use the chemical missiles that they stole from another base (Where they murdered everybody) to destroy 80000 people in San Francisco. The government is forced to call in the local chemical expert, Goodspeed. Goodspeed is used to being in a lab and doesn’t really like violence but he isn’t really given an option. He won’t be enough though so Mr. Mason is taken out of jail to help out. Mason is the only person to ever escape Alcatraz and he used to be a legendary agent for the British Intelligence. If anyone can stop these guys, he can. Will these two vastly different characters be able to put aside their differences and save the world or are they doomed to take a loss here?

Right away one thing you’ll notice about the film is that the soundtrack is actually really great. The themes are nice and fast which make the action scenes more fun. It amplifies the visuals and just makes the whole adventure feel a lot more complete. The visuals are also pretty good for the various locales and the combo works pretty well. Since a lot of films don’t really bother having a soundtrack I always feel the need to give a shoutout to the ones that actually pull it off. It’s an important thing to have.

Goodspeed is a decently good main character. He panics quite a lot but he’s never really been a field agent so it’s all pretty new to him. He still wants to do his best to stop the villains and save lives. He never really waffles on this and stays true to the goal. He fights when necessary as well and doesn’t bck down. He also tends to be a nice guy as he doesn’t put Mason on the spot in front of his daughter. He’s a quality lead. Fortunately, our other lead is also good. Mason’s the expert of the film. He’s one of the best hand to hand fighters the army has got and he’s also really good with a gun. This combo definitely makes him very lethal to everyone else. Anything can be turned into a weapon with this guy. He’s certainly not heroic the way Goodspeed is though. After the government locked him up for 30 years the guy appears to have gotten jaded with life in general. He just wants to make sure he gets out of this in one piece. The guy certainly has good reason to be upset at everyone though as he did get a pretty bad deal. No trial and everyone keeps on lying to him. Still, he has to man up in the end to save his daughter so he presses on. The ending may not be extremely happy for him, but it’s happy enough I suppose.

The villains try to go for the sympathetic angle, at least the main one. He wants the families of the fallen Marines to get recompensated since the government ignored them and figures this is the best way to do it. The thing is, he hired a bunch of guys he has never worked with before and they’re a little more villainous than the others. They just want to murder a bunch of guys and don’t care for anything but the money. Teaming up with villains never pays off in the end. It’s just a good way to speed up your ultimate demise.

I can’t really say that the romance was all that good, but to be fair it was barely a factor in the movie. It was relegated to the backseat for the entirety of the film. It was just there to give the main character more incentive to save the city. It’s not like he needed much more at this point since the city was nearly toast, but it’s not as if it’s a bad thing. The main heroine seemed like a reasonable character.

The first half of the film with the car chase was handled pretty well. The cops look a little bad as they really made it very easy for Mason to escape. Still, it was a good blend of action and humor. Goodspeed certainly gives us a lot of great facial expressions the entire time. The film really speeds by until everyone dies and it’s just the main two. That’s where the pacing finally starts to slow a bit as the characters keep rethinking what they should do next. It’s also one of the only points without a lot of constant explosions. Still, it’s not as if this lasts for long and then the action starts up again.

As far as the writing is concerned, I’d say that it’s okay. Naturally the TV version fixed up some of the language so that significantly improved the script. That gives the writing a little help even if it is still there. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s not bad either. It’s at a good enough level where it doesn’t distract from what’s on screen so then you can focus on the fights. This whole review really just boils down to one point, this is a solid and explosive action film. What you see is what you get here. There’s no animal violence, the violence in the fights isn’t excessive, things just move very quickly. You move from fight to fight and they’re all handled well.

The government is extremely shady as always, but to the point where it is comical. I always love seeing the government act shady while I also love seeing them look good in films. I’m fine with it either way. The film even has a bit of a stinger involving a certain assasination that everyone loves to use in conspiracy stories. It was a nice enough subplot and I wouldn’t mind a sequel where the government ends up going to court and then things get crazy.

Overall, The Rock is definitely a really solid action movie. The fight scenes are on point and there is an explosion around every corner. The film may have slightly dragged by the end but it’s hard to point to any specific scenes that could have been cut. There may be a few here and there, but it’s just that the overall length of the film is rather long. It’s still handled well at the end of the day. The main message of this film is that you have to be a good shot because if you miss the first few times, you may not get a second shot. I’d recommend giving this film a watch if you see it on TV. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall 7/10

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

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Time to check out a recent Sci-Fi film by the name of Valerian. I remember seeing the trailer a few times but being skeptical as to whether it’d be good or not. It looked like the kind of movie that would rely on weird environments and good visuals over the story or good characters. I wasn’t really wrong on some of that and the characters are pretty bad, but the film is reasonable. At the very least the film is pretty fast paced.

The film starts off with our two main characters, Valerian and Loreline. They are tasked with collecting a money hedgehog and do so after beating up everyone involved with the transaction. During a universal peace conference they are attacked by a group of blue beings who were thought to be long extinct. The heroes head off to stop them but they may be in for a political war that is above their pay grade.

Valerian is unfortunately a pretty bad main character. He’s a serious flirt who even has a playlist of everyone he has “conquered.” That’s as bad as it sounds. His next target is Loreline and he is slowly breaking through her defenses. Even aside from his morally disappointing personality, he isn’t even that strong. He is portrayed as an elite agent who never fails and that’s why he is supremely confident. Yet, in his first mission in the film he has to be rescued by Loreline because he made a bunch of rookie mistakes and got wrecked. It’s something that happens a little too often in live action productions where the hype characters simply can’t live up to their reputation. He just never becomes a good character which is unfortunate.

Loreline is the main heroine and I can’t say that she is any better. She is also supposed to be a hype character as well as the “tough” one in the group. This is quickly negated as she loses to Valerian in wrestling during the opening minute. She gets her ”burns” in as she mocks him and his playlist but knowing about it just makes her inevitable pairing with Valerian even worse. She also spends the entire film glaring which is certainly trying a little too hard to be tough.

It’s the side characters who are a little better as is sometimes the case. The main villain is a political General from the army who covered up a bunch of murders. He keeps his confident persona even when being attacked and threatened. He makes a good speech at the end and is always many steps ahead of the other characters. He was playing chess while they were playing checkers. One weird moment was when he was kidnapped though. The whole time I figured it was part of his plan, but it seems unlikely by the end. I guess he just wasn’t ready for the aliens to make their move.

Naturally the film has to force in a very long strip show scene which introduces a shape shifting character. Not only is this the worst way to introduce a character but this is a sci-fi trope that needs to die. It seems like a bunch of alien based films love to show off the costumes or cgi by including a scene like this or set pieces where everyone forgets to dress out well. It’s something that should never happen as if you feel a need to show off your animation then it probably wasn’t very good to begin with. The character is all right I guess but her role is rather small and needlessly tragic. I didn’t really see a point to her dying. It doesn’t work for shock value since we didn’t know her and from a narrative perspective it had no impact on any of the characters.

This film apparently had a really big budget and I think it was misplaced. Through my followings with RWBY, I’ve gotten to see a lot about how a budget is spent in terms of animation and how it is often not worth it. You can spend a significant chunk on a cgi landscape with a lot of NPCs in the background. Those guys don’t matter so why spend budget on them? I’d say that a budget should be spent primarily on fight scenes, backgrounds are secondary. This film had some nice backgrounds, but a good chunk of it was in a very ancient desert planet and then on a beach with no technology. So I’m assuming that the bulk of the budget was spent on Valerian running through various worlds in the quick 5 minute scene. Using up a huge budget on a minor scene is just not worth it and using practical effects would possibly have cut the budget in half then. The sci-do guns look good and the fight scene where Valerian takes on a bunch of ogres was good. Use the budget for that instead and have a super speed battle where he is zipping around then at lightning speed and dodging energy blasts. Now that would be hype!
I have to question how useful the cannon tech from the first scene was as well. Sure, the villains were pretty scared of Valerian and he was invisible so they had a hard time hitting him but he was still there and would have been destroyed if he couldn’t jack out. An impressive piece of tech to be sure and virtual reality has certainly peaked in this universe but the heroes may want to start thinking of better security options.

The robots made for pretty good minions for the main villain. They would have been perfect if they had also been bulletproof. As it stands, Valerian was able to dish out the pain against these guys but they got a lot of the aliens in the process. The aliens really shouldn’t have just walked outside while defenseless in front of the enemy. They were practically asking to be shot and I get how they’re pacifists and all, but at least do the peace thing behind the magical barrier. Alls well that ends well for the survivors though so at least the race isn’t extinct.

As mentioned earlier, Valerian’s best strength is in the film’s quick pacing. It’s over 2 hours, but the movie never drags on and you’ll stay entertained the whole time. It may make its share of mistakes and so I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but at least it’s a fun one the way that Resident Evil is enjoyable. The two are still in completely different leagues when it comes to quality as well. I think there could be some potential for a sequel here since there’s a lot you can do in space, but I want them to head to a high tech world that can take advantage of the future setting. Also, give the main actor/actress some more sleep before filming next time. They look dead tired in every scene of the film to the point where I’m sure they must have gone through many takes for each scene.

Overall, Valerian is one of those movies that just tries to throw a lot of things at the screen and hopes they will stick. Unfortunately it is very 50/50 in this regard. The film needed more action scenes and choosing a desert planet and then a beach planet when the film is supposed to be futuristic was a mistake. Get some better characters and then we can really begin thinking of a sequel. Until then, this film will need to stay under the radar as we open the way for other sci-fi films. If you just want a film where you get a future setting then I suppose this is a film worth checking out. There weren’t too many films that take place in the future this year. If you want a better film about the future, check out the DBZ Trunks movie.

Overall 5/10

Dark Tower Review

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Time for a very traditional action film. By that, I mean that this film basically checks off all of the boxes that you would expect for an action movie but it doesn’t really do anything original. It’s a reasonably good film, but one that does have some issues. You can see how it likely cuts out a bunch from the book as they don’t explain much. I’m fine with no explanations as it’s fun just filling in the blanks on your own and finding out fun facts on Reddit. The main character is annoying though and Elba’s character probably should have been the lead without a sidekick. Lets take a step back and look at the plot real quick.

A kid named Jake has been able to see into another world lately. He can sort of see the future, past, and alternate realities. Unfortunately he’s not wise enough to keep this to himself and gets so obsessive about it that everyone starts to believe he is crazy. So when the aliens actually do come in to take Jake down for the count, nobody believes him. He manages to escape to the other world where he meets a traveling hunter named Roland who wants to destroy this guy named Walter who murdered all of his friends. Roland doesn’t want to make any friends, but Jake was never going to give him an option anyway so it is what it is.

The other world is basically just a large desert planet so there isn’t much to look at. The film is visually uninteresting so the best scenes are when they head back to Earth. Any scene with the kid and his parents is annoying, but the characters wandering around and eating hot dogs is a little more passable. The film doesn’t have a whole lot of humor as you may expect but when it does you just want Jake to stop talking and overreacting.

As you can probably tell I didn’t like Jake right from the start. It’s pretty common for the young protagonist to let everyone know that he has hallucinations and as a result nobody trusts him. It just seems like Jake should have taken a hint early on that nobody else was seeing these things or noticing that the world was going to end. It’s not like Jake even knew this either. All he knew was that he was having strange dreams and should have thought of a plan himself. Keep acting normal and play the game until he gets a better hand. Then Jake is just a liability throughout the adventure even after meeting up with Roland. He tries to guilt trip Roland and just doesn’t seem like the kind of companion you want on your team. My review may be a little rough on the poor kid, but I think he just wasn’t ready for this level of combat. It’s like I always say, the kids should stay at home while the grownups handle the fight.

Roland is a decent main character but he does come off as rather generic. I can roll with him deciding to take down Walter as a last act of revenge considering that saving the world is pretty out of the question at this point. The problem is, you can take him about as seriously as Drax The Destroyer since it would be an extremely simple matter for Walter to defeat him. Walter has advanced telekinesis at his disposal. While his mind games don’t work on Roland, he still has many ways to destroy him. Roland is fighting a hopeless battle in which he is greatly outnumbered. Naturally you want to put the hero in a bad spot for most situations, but once it gets too absurd you can only try to predict what form of plot hax will help him out.

Walter is the big villain and the only other character of real importance here. He’s a pretty charismatic guy and probably the most interesting character here. He has a pretty solid plan and came close to destroying everything. While he needs to learn how to play the match ups a little better and camp more against someone with a gun, he seems reasonably intelligent. You always want to have a good villain to make a film more exciting so having him here was definitely a smart move. There are other supporting villains, but they are really just here to reinforce Walter’s image. We do get a giant monster, but considering it wasn’t bulletproof you knew who the victor was ultimately going to be.

The film can be rather dark as the villains have already captured most of the kids and use them to destroy the tower. Fortunately the film doesn’t overdo it in focusing on this angle. You get the feeling that this movie exists in a universe that is surrounded by a lot of dark elements but keep those in the books. We get the atmosphere which is the important part. It’s not a fun movie by any stretch and it’s serious throughout, but at least we don’t get much forced comedy or subplots. As I mentioned, the supporting characters never get to do much so the screen time is always with the leads. The pacing is fairly quick and the film never drags on. While the ending is rather sad, the characters don’t dwell on it and are actually really happy all things considered. It’s likely their way of coping which makes sense.

If you do like the supporting characters then you should prepare yourself. The film is rather mean spirited towards anyone who hangs around the main characters. That’s actually a bit of a trope you’ll notice after a while. If you help the main character then you’ve likely just triggered a bunch of death flags. They can’t be bothered to come back and save you so it’s definitely Game Over at that point. They at least helped out in the long run so that’s good.

Overall, There’s not much reason to watch The Dark Tower. There’s no one area that you can point to and explain why it did this well. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, but I suppose it doesn’t do anything particularly bad either. It’s just an average action film and one that will hold your attention well enough after you finish it. It didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, but I wouldn’t mind a sequel I suppose. Just give the heroes some power ups so they’re not just random people with guns. It’ll make the fight scenes against super powered villains a little more believable. If you’ve run out of fantasy films and want to see another one then this is a reasonable film to pick up. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy this new world.

Overall 6/10

Pokemon: Scyther, Heart of a Champion Review

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It’s time for a retro Pokémon adventure. This one definitely adapts some intriguing adventures that make you wonder just how strong the Pokémon really are. Despite the power level moments being puzzling this is still one of the better books since there is a lot of action. As usual there are two stories to be found here so I’ll talk about both of them.

The first story has our heroes walking through the forest when they encounter an injured Scyther. It apparently lost a battle for clan leadership since he is old now and has been cast away. The rules for the clan are that you have to leave if you lose. It’s pretty sad for Scyther but when you remember that he has done the same to many others (Since it’s referenced that he has won many times and only lost this one due to age) then the sympathy goes down a little bit. Still, he wants one more chance to fight for leadership so in the meantime Tracey captures him. Scyther isn’t pleased to say the least but then Team Rocket shows up so they will have to grudgingly team up.

Scyther has always had a cool design but I don’t like what they did with him in the show. I don’t think Pokémon should ever become senior citizens, especially since that whole concept seems to vanish later on. Just as importantly, they could have made him old without making him ancient. That would have made him much better if you ask me. As it stands, he is old but still gets a lot of hype and is treated as a very strong Pokémon. He was saved by the guy who overthrew him though and so I can’t buy into him being an actual rival for Charizard. I suppose none of this is Scyther’s fault though and I can’t be mad at him for still being feisty and ready for combat.

It’s not a bad story and in fact it’s a pretty important one since Tracey finally gets a new Pokémon to fight at his side. It’s pretty straightforward though as Team Rocket is the only threat here and you could argue that they have never been a threat before so why start now? The fact that the book implies they were about to win is pretty funny if you ask me. I do like that Ash was the first to think of the idea of capturing Scyther in order to take him to the Pokémon Center. This is the main character that I grew up with. A kid who was always jumping into action as opposed to being confused.

The big story of the volume has Ash and friends enjoying a good time when a trainer shows up to challenge him. The guy thinks Ash looks tough so he will make for a worthy opponent. Ash agrees and goes up against this guy but his Pikachu gets downed in a single hit and Charizard does no better. In fact, Charizard loses so badly that his life is in danger now so Ash might have to rethink using his Pokémon in such dangerous fights from now on…or quickly go for the rematch.

The elephant in the room here is that a Pokémon should certainly not get near fatally wounded from a single attack. Not to mention that it was an ice attack against a fire type. Many solutions will pop into your head like why doesn’t Ash put Charizard in a Pokeball and run to the Pokémon Center or whip out a Hyper Potion. I feel like the Pokeball trick didn’t work in the anime and the book may have mentioned that but this is just as strange. Why wouldn’t it work? If objects like ice can block a Pokeball’s power then that really is a pretty big problem. If Pokémon fights really are this dangerous then it does give N and his followers a leg to stand on when they say that Pokémon fights are barbaric and must be stopped. Their lives are clearly being put at risk in every fight if this episode is to be believed. Either way I always thought their ideology was pretty interesting but let’s stay on topic.

The only lesson Ash learns from this is to go right back and fight the guy again. Sure, they dodge this time but what if the attack had actually landed? Then they would have been in the same position only Charizard would be a lot weaker this time around. Ash should have either turned down the fight or brought out Pikachu again. As an Ash fan part of me is glad he didn’t turn down the fight but the stakes sure increased here. I thought in the anime he only reason the Poliwrath was so strong was because he had on some kind of equipment that boosted his attack but maybe I was misremembering since here he book treats the belt like a normal one that isn’t actually affecting the fight.

Finally I also have to question how Pikachu was so thoroughly humiliated in this fight. Sure, the Thunderbolt didn’t work and that was the first cause for concern. Even ignoring the type advantage, Pikachu should be at a crazy high level by now. Then Pikachu should still be quick enough to dodge the counter blow and durable enough to endure it. Pikachu was incredibly lowballed in this episode for the plot’s and as a loyal fan that was a little disappointing. Controversial Opinion time, I think Pikachu could take down Charizard in a fair fight. Still, ignoring this, it was cool to have a new trainer who could fight at such a high level. It’s too bad he never appeared again since the guy was definitely skilled. Having him show up in the next Pokémon League Championships would have been a really cool way to go about it.

Overall, this is definitely a pretty good Pokemon book. Both stories are fun and hold up well in their own right, but the second story is definitely the best one. Most of the story is about the big fights and we finally have a Poliwrath who is looking good. That Pokémon has a great design so I am certainly glad to see him getting the hype he deserves. This part of the Pokémon anime is still nostalgic from the good ole days and I look forward to the day when the anime gets back on track from this Sun and Moon saga. It’s stayed it’s course and we need more serious fights like the one this volume has. The suspense and drama have vanished in the newer episodes.

Overall 7/10

Big Hero 6 Battle in the Bay Review

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It’s time to look at another side scroller in the form of Big Hero 6. Most movies may not get tie-in games anymore but Big Hero 6 dared to go against that trend. It’s a game that definitely plays it by the books and feels relatively low budget like what you would expect from the genre. It’s short and straightforward but it is also fun. I’ve always enjoyed these cash in games quite a bit. They may not be AAA titles like Mario Odyssey or Sonic 2006, but in their simplicity it brings you back to an older, more nostalgic era of gaming.

So the plot is that someone has stolen yet another one of Hiro’s inventions. I forgot which one but it’s now in the wrong hands so that makes the villain very dangerous. The team decides to locate the villain at all costs and quickly head over to take him down. The plot is pretty self explanatory as the heroes do exactly that. They find and defeat the villain rather easily and Baymax didn’t even have to do a whole lot this time as he still tries to be a pacifist. That being said, he is thrown into the conflict by the end.

There are 4 playable characters who each have a distinctive fighting style. The main character can shoot out force fields which blow the enemies away. He is fun to play as and the levels go by quickly since he is so skilled. The next character is the Roller Blades character. Unfortunately they made her the worst character in combat as her attacks are the weakest. This is supposed to be balanced by the fact that she is the fastest fighter in the game but that doesn’t matter a whole lot since it’s not by a great deal and most areas force you to stop and fight the villains anyway. The third character is the power hitter of the group who wields a sword. He is easily the best character to play as since even the strongest enemies tend to lose in a single combo. Finally we have Fredzilla. He is in the middle of the gang. Not particularly strong but not downright weak either. His super jumps are fun since you just skip a lot of enemies that way.

Aside from their signature abilities the gameplay is that of a normal side scroller. You walk and jump through the level until you reach the end. There will be a few encounters with the enemy where you quickly dispatch them and keep it moving. Each level will only take a few minutes. There are 21 levels and the game lasted around 2 and a half hours. So I guess each level was around 6 minutes or so. It’s not quite Powerpuff Girls length but still a pretty short game overall. That being said, it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable due to both the level designs and the core gameplay. It’s more polished and the boss battles are all unique as opposed to simply punching them all into submission. Some of these bosses may even take multiple tries as you try to figure out how to hurt them. The game’s a little vague on that part but simply studying their movements and all should help you figure out the weaknesses.

As far as the graphics go, the game looks good. It’s still in the 3DS era so despite not being a big budget game it does hold up well. As long as a game looks clear and I get what’s going on, I typically give it a passing grade and this game earns that. The soundtrack is pretty uninspired though. No memorable tunes are to be found here. You’ll forget the ost the instant you put the game down although I can’t say I was expecting anything different to be honest.

There is some minimal replay value here. You can find the four Hero letters in each level to do something, I believe it may unlock artwork. You can also snag the 5 Health pieces in each level to level up your characters’ health bar. These things are fine but you’re unlikely to get them naturally unless you intentionally go for them and once you’ve beaten the game you don’t really have a need for the extra health if you really think about it. It’s still better than nothing of course but the overall message you should be getting from this is that the game is quite short. Aim to have fun while completing it but don’t expect the game to last.

One easy way to help the game a bit would have been to make the plot a bit better or the dialogue more passable. All of the characters just sound really annoying, Fred in particular. It’s hard to really feel like you should be rooting for these characters and instead you just want the level to start. The “cutscenes” are all very short so they don’t drag or anything though. They really just don’t add anything to the game and that’s always a little sad for the writers when you think about it. Letting Baymax be playable with some kind of unique gameplay like a flying level would have been nice as well. That’s effectively what Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer did for the DS a while back and it worked reasonably well.

Overall, Big Hero 6 is a fun game. You’ll enjoy each level and going for the collectibles along the way is a good tactic to make the game a more complete experience. The characters and story may be rather weak but the gameplay is the important part and it works well enough. It would be nice if the game was longer or had more modes to enjoy though. Regardless, this is basically the definition of a weekend rental although it’s unlikely to last you for the full weekend. It’ll at least buy you some time and you’ll have fun along the way. An easy fix would be to add a Multiplayer mode and then the game would certainly have a lot more replay value.

Overall 7/10

The Powerpuff Girls HIM and Seek Review

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The Powerpuff Girls is one of those franchises that was a little before my time but it certainly looked like a lot of fun. The style of the show also gives the series a lot of potential for games. I’m pretty interested in trying out the GameCube title but I figured I’d settle for the GBA one this time around since the big game slot was already filled for Christmas. The title basically spoils the final twist of the game but I suppose by then you’ve already played through the game so it barely matters right? It’s a decently fun game but one that is extremely short and just couldn’t live up to its full potential.

The game starts with the girls hanging out at school. Their teacher tells the class that they will have a Scavenger Hunt and whoever collects the most items gets a gold trophy. The heroes are hyped about this and begin collecting while thwarting the many thugs who hang around the school. Can the team save the world and their school reputation or have they finally bitten off more than can chew? One thing’s for sure, you’ll find out very quickly.

The game is only about an hour long. You can certainly complete the game in less time than that if you hurry. It took me around an hour, maybe a few minutes longer so I fit into the curve. That’s definitely a very short game by any stretch of the imagination. This is a big part as to why I can’t give the game a full 7 Stars. It’s over in the blink of an eye so no matter how fun it may be, it’s still an issue. I gave Sonic Forces a lot of heat and that game was at least 3 times longer. Sure, this is a gba game but even then you definitely expect a little more to be honest.

So the gameplay is akin to your typical side scroller. Think Teen Titans as opposed to Mario though. You fly around and beat all of the thugs up. You can fly up and down as well as left and right. Just bumping into an object that is in the list will allow you to obtain it. Every area has at least two story objects to find and they typically have collectibles for others as well. Talking to the people around town will get you the rest. The collection aspect is fun enough and as a kid I probably would have tried to 100% this game since is seems like it would take a reasonable amount of time to do. Seeing the characters get the Gold Trophy is sure to be satisfying.

Some of the bosses can provide a reasonable challenge if you just have one Powerpuff Girl left but this is nullified by the fact that you instantly respawn with all 3 members back to start the fight, it makes any battle trivial in the end since you effectively have 3 health bars at this point. I would definitely give the gameplay a pass. It’s pretty easy to pick up and play while still remaining enjoyable. It feels retro and nostalgic in a good way. That’s why it’s a shame that the game is so short. There’s a lot of potential here and you could draw some similarities to the Legacy of Goku series. Of course, that series also has a great level up system and solid transformations so it’s not as if this game was ever going to pass that one. Still, it’s worth thinking about.

The only issue I’d have with the gameplay here is that it was hard to navigate around town at times. There is a map of the various areas but it wasn’t created with a lot of thought behind if and doesn’t even show you the exits that lead to the various places. Even with the NPCs trying to be helpful you are likely going to waste a little time going from place to place. It’s sort of like Breath of the Wild where you can’t run for very long so prepare for a lot of “walking” (slow flight)

The graphics are okay. The Powerpuff Girl designs are on point and they did a good job of recreating the city. It actually holds up pretty well in this regard. Unfortunately the music is less inspired. There aren’t really any memorable tunes. The only music that will really get you going is the game’s opening with is basically the opening from the show, but abridged. I would have liked more cutscenes but at least we did get illustrations for the big bosses so I guess we take those.

Overall, Him & Seek is a fairly decent game. There aren’t a whole lot of scavenger hunt games so it was pretty unique. Nostalgic Powerpuff Girl fans will definitely get a kick out of this game as well. It’s a solid title that I would recommend but you definitely need to be aware of how short the game is before you agree to purchase it. It’s a single hour long so unless you find a great price it’s not worth spending a lot of money on. Even this review was short as a result since there’s not a whole lot to talk about here. There are plenty of other games that you could buy which would give you far more entertainment. That’s why my recommendation is rather half hearted as you could certainly buy other titles that handle the genre more effectively.

Overall 6/10

Overlord: Dark Legend Review

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Overlord Dark Legend is one of those Wii games that I found in the 5 dollar bin. It stayed in the backlog for quite a while though as the game just didn’t inspire much confidence. Still, I looked up a gameplay video and figured…why not? Anyway it’s a reasonably fun game with some nice mechanics but also some glitches. These glitches could be fairly big ones as well like in one of the final bosses. It was actually handy this time around though so I wasn’t really upset about it.

The plot follows the prince of an old kingdom. His Father went off to fight evil but while he was gone his step wife’s two kids decided to take over the kingdom even though the main character was supposed to take it over. Our young main character decides that he will take the kingdom back using the powers of darkness. He will prove once and for all who the most evil prince is. Can he really hope to stop his siblings and their armies of Elves and Dwarves? Well, The Overlord has his own army of Goblins so perhaps they are up to the challenge.

The execution may not have been amazing but the actual plot really wasn’t all that bad. A villain having to stop two worse antagonists in order to reclaim his kingdom makes you wonder if perhaps this time you should root for the villain. There’s also a big Elf vs Dwarves was going on in the background and you trick then into escalating it even further. Then there are even some Fairy Tales like the Gingerbread House here. That part actually gets pretty dark. There aren’t really any cutscenes so the game has to make up for this with the text and constant banter of your partner. That guy was a little annoying but he didn’t appear too often so it was never much of a problem. The NPCs were more annoying as their sound byte would just keep replaying over and over again. Once you’ve heard them once you were good. By the 19th time you will be ready to leave the Kingdom.

The gameplay is standard 3D and it’s a platformer. You don’t do much jumping so maybe that isn’t accurate but you traverse through the levels and typically try to get to the end or destroy something. You have a sword and a variety of attack spells, the main gimmick for the game is that you also have a bunch of minions following around. They come in different types like Fire, Water, and Poison. Each type has a different specialty in combat and also a special ability during the platforming parts like retrieving items from the water or inside a poison smoke ball. Dont worry about forgetting any of the abilities since the levels force you to use all of them at many points in the game. When fighting you can order all of them to help you or split them up. This has a good amount of potential with all of the strategy involved here but the Wii remote ensures that your decisions aren’t as precise as they could be. Throw in the glitches and poor A.I. and you’ll soon find yourself just sending the full group after any enemy you come across. It’s typically the best move anyway.

Speaking of poor design, there’s a boss in the game that you can defeat without getting hit once. This isn’t even due to a glitch. You fight a giant robot in a fire area. The part that the game forgot is they left you a high platform that was needed earlier. So just head up there and tell your Fire minions to attack. They will throw fireballs at the robot and eventually you will claim victory. The robot has no projectiles so he can’t fight back and the A.I. doesn’t even know what to do so the boss just ends up standing in place. It may be a cheesy way to win but the game really should have thought that one through. Despite this boss, the game does start to get a little difficult by the end. It certainly never stops being manageable but you do have to wonder how much harder the game could have been if it had continued on for another level or two.

The game certainly isn’t pretty to look at. That will certainly be one of your first thoughts while traversing through the game. The graphics are definitely pretty low tier for the Wii and the style itself doesn’t help matters. The level backdrops seem as if they were intended to be known a game like the Ocarina of Time but with the grit of the World of Warcraft. I can confirm that the game could not pull this off. There also isn’t much of a soundtrack to listen to here as it is all instantly forgettable. It feels like it was probably just a lot of public domain music. A game doesn’t need to sound or look good in order to be a quality title but those aspects would have helped.

The game is also quite glitchy as I mentioned earlier. One of the final bosses is supposed to slam you with his sword as you slam back. Once enough damage has been done then the boss will teleport around the level and start to gain health until you track him down. This was pretty tricky since the level is quite large and after a while you will simply run out of minions to fight with. I lost to this guy a few times but then something happened. I left the area by mistake and cane back. The boss restarted but this time he had forgotten how to heal or teleport. He just stood in place halfheartedly flailing around with his sword but not actually dealing much damage. Without his special abilities it was fairly easy to take him down for the count. A pretty big glitch but one I could work with. Honestly it was mostly the bosses in general who seemed to glitch a lot as it also happened in the gingerbread house. There were times where a minion would get stuck in an action or freeze inside of a boulder. It was just a very glitchy game and something that you would expect given the price.

There definitely isn’t much in the way of replay value either. Once you beat the game you can try to get some more upgrades and fight the boss but there is no real reward for doing so. That may work in some games like Mario Odyssey where it’s all about the pride but for the most part that just isn’t good enough. I want to have a reason for doing something and especially for a game like this one. The actual campaign is a reasonable length and will definitely last you some hours. It’s not short but certainly not long. I’d place the game closer to the middle as far as action platformers go.

Overall, Overlord is definitely a unique game. Playing as the villains is already something that you wouldn’t really expect and the Pikmin mechanic isn’t something you see often either. For good reason though as I prefer to just be running through the level solo so I don’t have to watch out for my minions. I suppose I’d recommend this game as there at least was some effort put behind it. It’s not exactly Shakespeare but it does have a real story and plot. It was fairly interesting and while the gameplay wasn’t polished, it’s hard to deny that the 3D hack and slash gameplay was intense. If you do check this game out, I’d recommend sticking to the Lightning.

Overall 6/10

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Star Wars series. It’s still the most popular Sci-Fi franchise out there and it’s pretty surreal that the series finally got to keep going after the long gap since episode III. This one’s been getting fairly mixed reception and it’s easy to see why. I have a lot of mixed thoughts on it as well. There’s a fairly large laundry list of pros and cons that I have with the film that all get thrown together which is why this review will be fairly long. Long story short, it’s a good movie, but one that feels like it’s considerably longer than it should be with not much actually happening for most of it.

The film starts with the Republic getting wrecked on all sides by the First Order as per usual. They’re outgunned and outnumbered but they have spirit. Against orders Poe decides to take down one of the enemy flagships and single handily saves a good chunk of the fleet. For his bravery he is demoted. Unfortunately the First Order is still gaining on the heroes and their only chance is that Rey will return with Luke Skywalker to save the day. In case she fails at this task, Finn is charged with a backup plan to find someone who can help them disable the tracker that is preventing them from escaping. With two plans in the works surely one of them will succeed right? Or is all hope lost already?

It’s great to see the opening credits roll and the classic Star Wars previously segment play. It’s always been a nice staple in the franchise and it works well. It also allows the film to go forward without having to show everything by giving us a little info from the start. As a result, the actual movie starts out with the big fight in space and that’s exactly how you should start a Star Wars fight. While the Lightsabers may be the most popular aspect of the series, the title would suggest big galactic battles like this one. It’s handled really well and you feel bad for the Republic since their ships are always so outnumbered. I’m a little skeptical on Poe’s ship massacring the big Star Destroyer but I always did say that I’ll take speed over power any day so I guess this proves my point. He did a lot of damage there. It’s a very strong start to the film and it hits all of the beats that it should. Unfortunately things start to slow down here. Lets stick to one chunk of the film at a time though. There are 3 main plots so in those plots I’ll discuss the relevant characters as well as positives and negatives.

The first plot is the Poe plot. The heroes are on the run and they need a plan. Leia gets knocked out because she made the mistake of being in the command room with all of the other generals. However, it is the only unguarded part of the ship and this is such a big design flaw that the people who built the Death Star can now breathe a little easier. This leads to a rather random scene. I won’t go into detail, but I didn’t care for the scene simply because it leads into absolutely nothing. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like Leia. She’s become such a bad character ever since she went into power. It’s like all good characters are corrupted by their bureaucratic status. Just look at how Naruto fell once he turned into Boruto’s father. Now, I can’t blast this scene too much though since obviously the plans had to change when the actress passed away. This plot point could have very well led on to something if she had stayed alive or perhaps she was supposed to die but to let the actress go out on a happier note they spared her.

Leia’s replacement is even worse though. While Leia makes consistent bad choices and shows no leadership qualities, at least she tries. Her replacement refuses to share her plans with anyone and is constantly aggressive for no reason. She seems to be very self conscious about what a bad leader she is so she takes it on everyone else. I don’t remember her name and I don’t even care enough to look it up. She has purple hair and you’ll know her when you see her. She has some of the worst plans that I’ve ever seen a “competent” general come up with. By “competent” I mean that the film wants you to think she is a brilliant strategist and that she knows what she is doing. It’s one thing for a comic relief character to come up with a bad plan or for someone that the film is trying to make look bad to come up with a bad plan. This is something altogether different because it is portrayed as a good plan. Without going into specifics, the new commander wants to sacrifice 100% of the fleet and get everyone to escape in small escape pods that have no barriers or weapons. Except for massive plot armor this is a complete suicide strategy with no hope of success. How would the villains not notice these pods on their scanners? This is the future right? In the present you are able to see small objects on a scanner, I refuse to believe that they simply wouldn’t notice them. Even once the plan starts tanking nothing is done for a very long time and then the lady remembers that she has one last option. By then almost everyone is dead, but still she is supposed to be remembered as a hero. Forget that!

The true MVP of this plot was definitely Poe. So much so that I can safely say that he is easily the best character in the whole film. He is always the one making the right decisions. It may have been risky to take down the Destroyer, but he saved a lot of lives in the process as it would have meant trouble for the other planets. It’s the other pilots who should have done a better job of steering and not dying so easily. Poe’s plan is much sturdier than the commander’s as it is at least a plan that has a chance of saving everyone else. Just giving up is the worst possible call to make in any situation. I’m also glad that Poe has a lot of loyal allies by his side since it shows that the crew can think for themselves. Getting sucker blasted by Leia was annoying, but not something I would blame on Poe. It’s just another reason not to like Leia. Hopefully Poe gets another big role in the next film since his character is really going strong now.

This plot was probably in the middle of the 3 for me. It wasn’t as slow paced as the other two, but at the same time it did stall the most. When you think about it, that whole plot is basically just the main ship running and the enemies blasting at it. It’s stuck for so long that it almost feels like they’re using stock footage at times. There’s one moment in particular where the camera keeps cycling between the 3 plots and it lands on this one twice where I saw 2 ships getting blown up each time. They were probably different ships, but it really looked like the same scene.

Next up is the weakest plot in the film. It belongs to Finn and his new partner, a fan of the pros. You can tell that she’s going to be annoying from her first scene as she gives Finn a sob story and is way too in awe of him. I’ve never liked the hero worship trope in fiction or the fact that it’s a real thing in life. (Shoutout to the Smash community) While her backstory is tragic and all, you have to wonder why she is in the film. Her romance with Finn is awful at best and while she makes the right call in stopping him during a critical moment, it’s also just super annoying. I was annoyed with her the entire time and that probably hurt the plot as a whole. Finn wasn’t much better though. He was seriously going to just run away. I was waiting for the twist or for him to explain that he wasn’t actually doing that…but he was seriously going to just up and run away. You can immediately see the contrast between him and Poe. Both agreed that the commander couldn’t lead her way out of a barn, but Poe decided to stay and do something about it while Finn decided to run away. Case Closed.

Finn’s just not a fun guy. Even when they go to the casino and hundreds of lives are hanging in the balance..he stops to enjoy the atmosphere and the games? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s hard to even root for him against Captain Phasma since she always gets the shaft in these films. Why is she not able to beat Finn in a one on one fight? She’s also not experienced enough to know that turning your back to the enemy and having slower reflexes than a turtle is a bad combination. I can’t say I’m really a fan of Phasma either, but I’m convinced that the writers just don’t like her. She is intentionally treated as a joke. Finn is unintentionally treated as a joke and there’s a big difference between those two. The former can be good writing while the latter is tragic. Finn is maybe slightly better here than in the first film…maybe. In some ways you can say that he has regressed as a character.

If it’s not obvious why this plot is the weakest, it’s because there are no good character here. They break out a quirky locksmith guy, but as he’s drunk the whole time it’s not like he’s going to be much of an improvement to the cast right? He doesn’t appear for very long anyway and I have to question just how weak the imperial defenses are if some guy in jail can pick them. Shouldn’t they keep upgrading their tech at this point? The plot is easily the least relevant to the film as well and probably could have been cut with nothing actually changing. As it’s the backup plan it could have easily been wrapped up a lot sooner or just been left to the way side and the Rey plot could have changed a bit to accomodate it.

Of course, that’s the big plot. We’re finally up to Rey and her adventures with one of the worst developed characters in history the biggest traitor since Benedict Arnold the mass murderer through negligence Luke Skywalker. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can’t stand this character. It’s hard to hear the guy talk since Luke is so obnoxious. Luke is not only a traitor and mass murderer, but in general a very egotistical, arrogant guy who can’t back up any of his tough talk. He went from being a standard main character for 3 films to someone who has turned his back on the heroes and doesn’t mind if they’re all slaughtered. I’m still puzzled as to who on Earth thought it would be a good idea for him to be such a heel here. The trailer set off all of my warning bells back in the day and the film solidified them. They may as well have turned him into a Sith Lord considering what happened here. When he first rebukes Rey and tells her that what she said was wrong you want to slap him since it was a valid answer. Luke’s answer is the one that’s hogwash as he tries to tell her that the Force is just energy everywhere and all that. It’s his catchphrase as well so you’ll hear him say it again, but he’s annoying (and wrong I’d say) both times. Rey didn’t say anything that really contradicted him and lifting things is basically the Force’s greatest strength. The Force wouldn’t be nearly as good without telekinesis since you could be shot from behind without it or lose in a fight. Controlling weak minds is okay and all but it only works on the weak. You need to keep your barriers up at all times or you’re through.

What they did to Luke is just plain insulting to the original trilogy. His character has been completely warped and I can see why fans would want to pretend that this film just never happened. I still say it’s depressing that after Episode VI where we finally beat the Dark Order and the Republic got to be in control, that everything was thrown back into the status quo off screen. It’s just hard to picture and also makes the first three films entirely pointless. Take them away and now nothing has changed. I went into that a lot with Episode VII so no need to tread old ground.

Rey is still a solid main character. I liked her a lot in the last episode as she was a pretty selfless hero who wrecked Kylo Ren and used the Force pretty well. She’s a slightly weaker character here as she lets Luke and Kylo take control quite a lot. I’d like to see her ordering them around or at least holding her own a little more. Perhaps in the next film though as she is steadily growing stronger. She is still a great character regardless and I’d put her as the second best named character. She may believe in Kylo Ren’s chance at turning over a new leaf too much but that’s not something I can fault her for.

I still can’t take Kylo Ren seriously. When your first scene is getting mocked by the main villain and throwing a temper tantrum in an elevator, you’re just not the kind of villain who is ever going to command respect. His conversations with Rey also don’t help the mystique angle as he just seems like someone who is being led around by forces he cannot comprehend. Kylo Ren can fight of course, but I’d still say that Rey should be able to beat him and so he shouldn’t be much of a threat to any of the higher fighters. The Red Agents should have obliterated him.

I’ve always liked the Red Guards. Those guys have awesome designs and have been a big part of the Star Wars background for a long time. How they didn’t defeat Rey and Kylo I’ll never know. I can understand Rey beating them, but Kylo? He should have gotten wrecked the instant the fight started and yet they acted as if he may be a little stronger than Rey now. I dunno about that, but I was really satisfied wit the fight scene. It’s easily the highlight of the movie. I’ve been waiting for a modern day Lightsaber fight for so long. It’s not quite as solid as the fights from the prequels yet, but we’re getting there. I imagine it’ll take time to get the choreography quite up to that level, but by the next film they should have it down. While Star Wars may not revolve around the Lightsabers, I think it should. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of the franchise and that’s why I like the prequel era so much. The Jedi vs Sith wars were a blast and nowadays you only really get to see that in the video games. If this is any indication of what will happen in Episode IX, then I’m all set for that.

Emperor Snook is pretty disappointing though. He doesn’t get to fight and is heavily nerfed so Kylo won’t look too bad. The character had a lot of potential so it was rather disappointing to see him go out this way. He has to lose at some point so I wouldn’t mind a Rey and Kylo team up against him, but at least some kind of fight. He’s a Sith Lord! The guy should be crazy strong. At least he has some hype though. The only other villain left is Hux and he’s effectively comic relief. The film did a good job of making him look part monkey to an extent though, bravo!

This plot was the best thanks to the fight scene. The Luke and Rey scenes were fairly dull though and the characters didn’t really do anything for a while. She’d ask him some questions, he’d ignore her. Rinse and repeat for roughly an hour. Rey did go into a cave, but nothing actually happened there so it was basically filler. Luke spent the whole subplot embarrassing himself as well so the longer it went on the worse it got for him. Even the flashback with Kylo makes him look terrible. He looks painfully weak and I’ll never be able to take him seriously again since this was allegedly Luke at his prime. Luke should blame himself for what happened since it really was his fault, at least when you look at the scene that’s the impression I got. He should have done a much better job of leading. Luke gets so bad that even the Sith complement him on making their job easier. I almost thought his final scenes had some plot hax, but the film handled it well so I have no complaints there.

The plots all merge by the end so for Episode IX we should finally have the full cast assembled. It’ll be nice to see the characters think up a battle plan as a team for a change. That being said, the war seems like it’s pretty much over. There basically aren’t enough people still alive to form a resistance since everyone was murdered so they’re going to need to just rely on Rey. She can take on an army on her own so the others should just sit tight and try to learn how to be Jedi in the meantime. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how they will really be able to contribute, but with the timeskip maybe the rest of the planets will send more cannon fodder to the heroes to beef up their ranks. You can’t help but feel bad for those guys, but they knew what they were signing up for.

So where does this rank in the Star Wars films? Well, I’d consider Episode IV, VII, III, and Rogue One to be the 4 strongest by far and in that order. Next up I’d place this one followed up Episode V, VI, and I. Episode II is all the way below and I doubt/hope a Star Wars film never reaches that low again. So at 5th place out of 9 that’s not bad at all. I fully expect the next Star Wars film to beat this one, but I guess we’ll see what effect bringing back the old writer will have. I do wonder just how much the writers like to mess with the script and what the last writer did to their benefit. After all, only the writers and executives are likely going to know how the film was “supposed” to go so we can only speculate. Whatever happens, I just want a lot of action so deliver that without falling into any landmines and I should be good. Pull another Luke Skywalker twist and that will just be sad.

I think it’s safe to say that big Star Wars fans will appreciate this title a lot more than a typical action fan. There are likely a ton of cameos and references thrown for these guys. I picked up on some, but for others I have no idea. As the plot doesn’t move too much, you’re supposed to get hyped over each character and what they’re doing. Since I didn’t like half of the characters I was supposed to like it didn’t work as well on me as it was supposed to. That shouldn’t be a big problem if you’re super into the franchise. After all, it’s not like I gave most of the films positive scores. That being said, if you’re especially a big fan of the original trilogy then there’s the chance that the opposite will be true and you’ll see this one as insulting its legacy. The only way to find out is to watch the film.

While the camera work is good for scenes like the Red Room where it’s very atmospheric, I’m not sure about the directing for the characters. It may not be the director, but I’m not sure who’s in charge of this. All of the characters seem to be out of breath all the time. It’s borderline distracting and this was an issue in Episode VII as well. Just think back to the first trailer for that one where the cliffhanger every time was Finn really out of breath trying to get up. (Always thought that was a weak scene btw) That happens here to basically everyone. It’s like the director tells them to all go for a job right before filming each scene. I just don’t get it and it’s a problem that I only really notice for Star Wars. The film also really overdoes the close ups on each character. We don’t need to see their faces in such intense detail to understand that the scene is intense. A standard far shot will suffice.

The movie uses a lot of the classic themes from the old films. They still sound as good as they ever did, but the movie still seems to be relying on nostalgia here as opposed to coming up with new tracks. I can’t recall any new tracks that were memorable or epic during the scenes. I only remember the iconic themes that play during the movie. Still, they’re enough for me to consider the film to have a pretty solid soundtrack. The visuals are pretty nice as well. The space fights are epic and the lightsabers are solid as well. Now all we need is a city like New York and we’ll really be all set!

The writing is quite solid. Ignoring the talking animals and robots who use grunts to say nothing while sounding deep, the humans all seem pretty good. There’s not a lot of random language at all and in general I don’t remember characters swearing. It probably happens, but certainly not all that frequently if so and it makes the film a lot more peaceful to watch. It definitely helps the characters as well. There’s no real animal violence here either although Chewy was a pretty bad character in this film for actually cooking an animal off screen. Considering what planet he is on, it came off as really insensitive. He’s not as bad as Groot, but he definitely had no real role in this story. Yoda’s cameo is a lot more satisfying with his fans and I’d say he looked good. Anyone who zaps something Luke’s a fan of is okay in my book and it was just a really great thing of him to do in general. If Yoda can look like this in the future, he may become more tolerable.

One pattern you’ll quickly notice in this film is that the rebellious characters are the best ones. Poe defies orders to quickly take command and it’s a great scene. Rey impulsively decides to head for the main villain’s base against Luke’s command (ha!) and while the plan doesn’t go well at first, I can agree with the notion. She’s confident in her abilities and certainly wasted no time in arriving there. It’s amazing how quickly she got there honestly and I was glad to see someone was taking charge. It’s similar to when Luke defied Yoda to go save his friends. It’s always the right option and always a blast to see even if it rarely goes too well for the hero.

I think the real issue that hurts this film a lot is the fact that it has virtually no replay value. It’s the kind of film that you really wouldn’t want to see twice because there isn’t really a reason to. There are a couple of big scenes where a character almost dies but doesn’t. I suppose it’s dramatic if you think they are going to die but since you would know better the 2nd time around it loses the impact. You could say the same for many films, but this one in particular really builds up the scene to the death as it drags on for a while to get maximum effect. Since you know these scenes are red herrings the next time, you’ll just want them to get on with it. It’s a really long film that feels like a long film. In the same way that some mysteries are hurt by watching them twice while others keep the replay value, this is just one of those action films that works best as a 1 time experience. It’s a natural consequence of upping the drama but maybe you can make an argument that the enhancement to the film the first time around is worth it. Not sure I’d argue that, but it’s there.

Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good film. It’s hampered by its long run time and fairly weak cast, but still has enough strengths to carry it over the hill. Poe and Rey are two solid heroes and that’s enough to help keep the film going. The fight scene we get with Rey vs the Red Guards is pretty fun and hopefully we’ll get more action in the next film. Now that certain characters shouldn’t be appearing anymore, the cast should get a lot stronger for the next film. Since it is also the end of the trilogy I’m expecting a lot more action. We got 1 Lightsaber fight and maybe 2 space fights. I’d like to see us double that number in the sequel, especially the lightsaber fight. I want an extended Force battle where Rey has to use her full arsenal. Anyway, I’d recommend the film to any action fan but if you’re a Star Wars fan then it goes without saying that you need to watch this one.

Overall 6/10